Influence Addictions Measure

220px-Nicoderm

I find myself today thinking that what I really need is a patch that alleviates the painful symptoms of withdrawal from tablet computing devices.   Mere months after getting my ematic Genesis tablet–  which I had been so pleased with–  I regret to say that I have somehow managed to destroy it.    It appears that I somehow managed to shatter the screen,  which shows a web of cracks all over the surface.   When I turn it on,  the screen does not respond to any touch.   I am frankly baffled at how I managed to crack the screen while I was asleep.   Though I’ve long been told that I am an athletic sleeper.

I suppose it is a measure of my addiction to tablets that mere hours after discovering my poor tablet is toast I am already shopping for a replacement.    I recall when my first tablet died,  I ordered another one almost immediately.   I expect I will do so again.   I wasn’t really addicted to Angry Birds.   Though I admit I have been trying over and over again to do the one I was stuck on.   You have a whole bunch of different birds to kill three slugs beneath all kinds of wood and ice.   I can often get two of them,  but the third one is elusive.   Part of me worries that even if I do get a new tablet and it does have Angry Birds installed on it,  who knows how long it may take me to reach the level I had been stuck at.   Starting over is fairly easy,  and is perhaps the one thing that everyone has gotten skilled at these days.   But it is never the same.

It seems to me that measurements are one of the least useful things in social media.   While it is trivially easy to count, say,  how many Likes a status update receives,  these numbers are inevitably quite disconnected from the real exchanges of ideas and emotions and the relationships with other users that are the real meat of social media involvement.   It seems as though every week or so users are bombarded with yet another tool that will analyze their history on some site or another and provide a pretty graphical report about what they are doing right or wrong.    I believe these reports to be usually less than useful and at times dangerous in that they may cause people to mis-direct their energies and efforts away from real interaction with their audience,  in pursuit of numbers which don’t ultimately mean much of anything.

And finally today,  my thanks to Kamal Bennani who suggested today’s words.

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Wallet Name, Politics, Blogging

One of the great things about blogging in this particular day and age is that even if you only very rarely write about a particular subject,  it’s still completely practical to keep a free blog where you publish your only very occasional pieces about , say, politics.    Shhhhh.    Please don’t tell.   But this going on 50 something guy who mostly tries not to talk about politics online….actually has a (very rarely updated) blog where he tries to talk about politics.   With all of the respectfulness and intellectual fairness he tries to bring to everything he writes about,  including himself.        I’m not in fact terrified that some of my conservative friends might click through.   (Honestly there are like a total of five articles on there and while all of them are about politics…they are also all rather personal in the same way that my entries on this blog are always an essayish combination of journal and topical post.    If you click on any of my categories you will find an array of posts with genuinely useful information about all of the subjects in my categories.

CapitaL eLs  was created largely in order to have a place to post something I wrote for some contest on Blog Catalog,   a site I used to hang out on a lot,  and where I met a number of wonderful people who continue to be Facebook friends,  indeed Facebook friends whom I genuinely value for the glimpses into their worlds and interests that they share with me online.    Facebook is a great place to chat with people whom you like and respect,  even if you only chat with them occasionally.    I’ve come to realize that I don’t actually want to know who subscribes to my Facebook stream.    I generally don’t subscribe to any individual streams if we are not Facebook friends.   And I have liked a thousand pages or so,  but I am quick to unlike if I find a page is cluttering or otherwise not adding value to my Facebook stream.

And one of the great things about having a personal blog is that it can be a good place to promo and link, even though only in this one post to my largely neglected political blog.  where it just so happens that I just now published a  new post,   a kind of riff across a Washington Post column about Obama and the “Youth Vote”.    If you choose to take a look,   that would be great and if you don’t want to hear me riffing about the coming (and not a day too soon) US Presidential election,   don’t look.    You’re welcome to subscribe or comment on any of the posts.   And to a very real extent I am the same me I am here when I am over there.    This is the only Google AdSense blog I still have.   (I am one of the zillions of people who were so excited about AdSense,  until after years they have accumulated 28 dollars in earnings and wonder if they will ever reach the one hundred dollar earnings threshold to actually be able to cash in on this “blog income”,   earned over a number of sites over all these many years.   There’s a lesson in here for new bloggers,  but I can’t quite hashtag it,  which makes This post hard to promote  🙂

16 cents

This is a post about Empire Avenue,  the social networking stock market game.   If you’re not on Empire Avenue and don’t want to be,   please go somewhere else today.    I was at 600/600 with the guy.   It appears we connected on Empire Avenue more than a year ago.   Not that I felt very connected.   He wasn’t following me on Twitter,  and I have no idea whether we might be Facebook friends.    But I don’t ever recall chatting with him,  and I can’t recall anything about the sort of content he might share.     When he took my 5,000 eaves but did not tweet as I asked in the mission,  I thought about it for a bit.   And blocked the mission cheater.    The forced refund of the 600 shares he owned set my share price back by 16 cents.   Which seemed a very small price to pay to insure that this guy,  whom I wasn’t really connected with,  can’t take my eaves while blowing me off socially.

I came to the realization this morning that I am on Empire Avenue to meet new people and socialize with new and old friends.    My blogging and social networking are done for my pleasure and Empire Avenue is mostly a place where I meet some great people  and get some (fairly rudimentary) feedback about how I’m doing on my blogs and social networks.    I definitely don’t want to re-arrange my social networking to benefit my Empire Avenue scores.   I just want to socialize.    So I find that I feel no guilt at all about disconnecting with someone I was never really connected with.     I suppose eventually I may check Facebook and see if I can free up another friend slot.   Or I might not,   and this gentleman will be just one more to be eliminated.   Some day,  when I get around to cleaning up my Facebook.   (Now that I can easily unsubscribe from content I don’t want to see without ever un-friending,  I have no interest in cleaning up my Facebook list.   At least not until I get a lot closer to the 5,000 friend hard limit.

I find myself thinking that you really do learn something new every day.     And that the people I actually talk with are far more important than anyone who owns my shares on Empire Avenue.

Creole Quarter Congregation

I’m honestly unsure just what it is that is pictured in today’s image of an unspecified plate of food from a restaurant in Malaysia.   It certainly doesn’t look anything like the Creole foods I was familiar with growing up in New Orleans.    I know that “Creole” peoples are usually regarded as being of Spanish heritage in Haiti or of French heritage in Louisiana.   Still the word remains fuzzy to me.   By comparison Cajun (which I sometimes think of as Louisiana’s other food heritage) seems fairly easy to nail down.  (Cajuns came to Louisiana from Quebec.)

While it would be tempting to me to take the word quarter and do a paragraph here about New Orleans’ iconic French Quarter neighborhood,  the quarter that is actually more on my mind as I type this is the final quarter of the year 2012 which has just begun.   I am enough of a gamer about this blog every day in 2012 thing to want to do better in this last quarter,  a strong finish to bring up the final score into the territory of a very solid B,  possibly with shades of B+ or even A-.

It has been a long, long time since I was part of any congregation in a church.    I suppose that attending classes (like in a college) or meetings like for a job might also constitute congregations of a sort.    But what I mostly think of as congregations involving me these days are when my blog posts attract a whole bunch of great comments.   It’s pretentious of me, I know,  but I do think of my blog on those days when I have so many great comments as being a bit like a salon,  where great minds come to discuss great ideas.   It really is a great time to be alive,  and to write and to be involved in social media.     And finally today,  my sincerest thanks to Doug Wolfgram, who suggested today’s words.

What Is Or Isn’t “Real Life”?

I have a good friend who is a couple of generations younger than I am.   While we are very different people,  with very different personalities and world views we share a fairly large number of interests and often enjoy just shooting the breeze with each other.  Sometimes though,  our very different perspectives lead us to disagreements.   As a blogger,  to me a “meme” is a blog post that sets out to answer some formulaic set of questions or follow some set of rules,  and which tags some (often specified) number of other bloggers to do a post of their own according to the same formula.    Sometimes these “memes”  can become quite popular and the person who created a meme that goes viral may get hundreds and hundreds of backlinks as more and more people do a post according to the formula and link back to the original.

My friend seemed quite puzzled when I explained to him  “what a meme is”.    I’m not certain that he actually said that I was “wrong” about memes,  but to my friend a “meme” is a picture such as the one shown here,  which each successive participant is to change the displayed caption on.   (If I were actually doing this meme according to my friends rules,  I would change the words from “WHY ISN’T THIS A NON FICTION BOOK”  to some equally clever (one hopes) phrase of my own.    Way, way back in elementary school I seem to recall learning that fiction is a make believe story and non-fiction is “true”.    This is somewhat accurate,  at least in as far as 3rd or 4th graders are capable of understanding the concept.    However any writer or student of literature who has gone on to or beyond the under graduate level knows that good literature is successful in large part because it presents universal truths using fictitious characters and settings.    Some writers and critics of non-fiction might also argue that good non-fiction succeeds because it examines, explores and illuminates veritable truths rather than because it uses the correct names of the “characters”  the story is about.

All of which is preface to asking, just what about our online lives (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) is “real life”  and what does that mean.    I am thinking today that this is not in any way an academic question,  but rather a critical question that anyone who participates in blogging or social media must at some point come to terms with if they are to be successful in these areas.    I am well aware that Empire Avenue is very much a game.    And yet I find myself disagreeing with a friend who remarked recently that it is  “just a game”.    Consider,  that most of the “players” on Empire Avenue are using their real “wallet names”  on that site and have connected Empire Avenue to their Facebook (and or G+) profiles– both sites that explicitly require that one use their real wallet name.   (Not that either site is particularly sophisticated or successful about weeding out folks who sign up under an alias.)

Is it fair to publicize,  such as on blogs or other social media,  instances where people seem to be cheating on Empire Avenue or “not playing fair”?    It’s not a simple question I don’t think and to be perfectly honest,  I have not as yet come to any conclusion either way which seems satisfactory to me.   What do you think?    Is Empire Avenue “just a game” or is it “real life”?   Is it fair to bring repercussions into people’s real lives for their behaviors on Empire Avenue?    Please leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Fiducial Not Fiduciary

A one bit image from the Pixel Noise blog.

I’ve been having so much fun lately with the #definethis word game on Twitter.    I was very struck yesterday that several players seemed to confuse the daily word, fiducial,  with the very similar sounding but actually a quite different word fiduciary.   Dictionary.com’s definition of fiducial

1.
Based on or having trust: fiducial dependence upon God.
2.
Accepted as a fixed basis of reference or comparison: a fiducial point; a fiducial temperature.
does mention trust,  which is of course a critical component of a fiduciary relationship.

(Dictionary.com defines fiduciary as:

noun

1.

Law . a person to whom property or power is entrusted forthe benefit of another.

adjective

2.

Law . of or pertaining to the relation between a fiduciaryand his or her principal: a fiduciary capacity; a fiduciary duty.

3.

of, based on, or in the nature of trust and confidence, asin public affairs: a fiduciary obligation of government employees.

4.

depending on public confidence for value or currency, as fiat money.

Wikipedia’s disambiguation page for fiducial sheds some light.   The very first sentence on this page reads :
“In law the term “fiducial” means “of or pertaining to a fiduciary“.”   This page goes on to specify several other meanings,  including uses specific to imaging technology, mathematics, statistics and physics.   It was genuinely thrilling to me to explore these related yet distinct terms on Twitter.

Even though I am as yet following only less than 400 people,  I spent a little time yesterday un-following accounts that have not followed me back.    I was more than a little disappointed to find that TwitCleaner,  which my friend Holly highly recommended did not offer me an option of seeing a list of those who were not following me back.    I manually looked at all of the accounts TwitCleaner flagged (for spam, excessive posting, lack of interaction, etc.) and un-followed most everyone who is not following me back.    If you have 2,000 followers and you’re only following 20 users,  I’m sorry but you are not anyone I want to chat with on Twitter.

Which is not to say that there is anything wrong with being a broadcaster on Twitter.   There are lots of tweeps who enjoy getting updates in their stream and are not particularly concerned with who does or does not follow them back.    Like any and every other social media site,  Twitter is just a tool and there are probably as many different ways to use that tool as there are users.   It sometimes seems to me that a great deal of the tensions and disagreements in social media are between users who use the same tool differently and are unable to understand or accept that the other person’s different use of the same tool is every bit as legitimate as their own use.   (This applies in spades on Empire Avenue.)   Are you on Twitter?   Are you looking for reciprocal followers or do you prefer to subscribe to broadcasters to get information?   Leave a comment and let me know.

Burgundy Merlot Claret

I am so not an oenophile.    I know that all three of today’s words are varieties of red wine.     The only one of the three I am really well acquainted with is merlot. Once on an Alaska Airlines flight I got bumped into first class and remember being served several glasses of merlot and I did make a point of buying merlot again.     That’s definitely not much of a wine story, I’m afraid.

In New Orleans there is a street called Burgundy,  but it is pronounced differently than the wine.  (burr GUN dee Street)   I suppose to be fair I should attempt at least a sentence about claret,  although honestly I don’t believe I’ve had any and probably would not recognize it if you handed me a glass of it.

I found myself un-liking a Facebook page this morning.    A headline in my screen caught my eye and I clicked through to read the article.   But the blog had a very garish design and a boat load of ugly ads.  And the article was very poorly written.   I got the distinct impression that the writer was not a native English speaker and spent a lot of time and effort reading about ‘how to make money blogging’,  and not nearly enough effort at creating real quality content.   When I went back to Facebook and found the item had been placed in my stream by some page I had liked,   I immediately went over and un-liked the page.   (And yes I do see the irony in complaining about crappy content just after quite failing to write a post about the three kinds of wine my friend Harold Gardner suggested. )

I am almost finished writing the new sections for Walking Down The Avenue.   I hope in the next couple of days to finish with the first draft.    Then it will be time to let it sit,  then proofread and edit and the proofread and edit again,  then send it off to the copy editor and get ready to publish.    It is still sunny like summer here in the Northwest,  though the temperature is pleasantly cool.   Fall really is a favorite time of the year for me.    And there is no mention of what happened on this date a few years back anywhere in this post.

Poking (as a) Professional Game

I have previously published a well-received post about poking on Facebook so I have to confess that I was less than thrilled with this new post suggestion.   To briefly recap that earlier post– I don’t think that poking serves any purpose and I don’t generally recommend it for most serious networkers.  That said,  if you find poking amusing by all means go ahead and do it.  I think it’s a waste of time,  but then too so are most any game you play online and there are a number of casual games I do enjoy playing,  mostly on Facebook.    And I try to only send game requests to friends who are actively playing the same game.   I also trust that most of my friends are techno butch enough to no how to block apps they find annoying.  (Just once someone blocked me instead and you know, that was okay too.)

I think that as a silly little game is the most appropriate way to treat poking.    I definitely don’t think it’s a good idea to poke business contacts unless you have reason to believe the poke would be welcome. (I am carefully refraining from making again the innuendo about what poking is actually a euphemism for.)   Which brings me to:

If you’re online long enough sooner or later you will offend someone.   I think it is absolutely unavoidable.     If you offend someone you don’t want to alienate,  the best thing to do is a prompt, sincere apology.    This very much needs to be combined with taking the time to actually understand how you offended the person and changing your future behavior so as not to further offend them.  (Apologies are easy.   Understanding is the challenge.)    Poking may be innocent fun for some,  and an anathema for others.   But if you pay attention and don’t bother folks who are not interested,  it can like many other little online games provide a few moments of joy to brighten your day.   But honestly,  I very rarely poke anymore.   My thanks to Saket Verma for suggesting today’s words.

Gracious Grateful Greedy

I am greedy.   It’s a horrible thing to admit to, but anyone who knows me well knows it is true.   I hope that enough of the time I also manage to be gracious and grateful  (two other traits that fairly describe me) that my friends put up with my greedyness.   And I try hard never to push it.

As I write this I have 9 draft posts.   A couple of them are posts that I started but didn’t get around to finishing and the rest are three word suggestions I have received from my readers.    I am writing this post (about three words that describe me, rather than Just Three Words suggested by my readers) because I very much want and need more three word suggestions.     Even if you have previously suggested three words,   please suggest three more now.   I strongly prefer that they be three random words,  rather than a phrase.   I also ask that they not be the three keywords you try hardest to match for.    An article about three key words will either come out great or awful.   I love it when these posts turn out great but I do try hard to avoid awful.

It amuses me that I have been hearing more and more grousing from G+ users.   One user is upset– his profile has been suspended and he has made changes and re-submitted it several times but can’t seem to get it approved.  (Of course it is impossible to actually contact someone who could explain why the profile does not meet their criteria.)    I started to tell him the thing to do is to selectively remove content and then re-submit until it gets approved,  but refrained from suggesting that.   Another friend seems to hate G+ even more than I do.   He said something like G+ is as if the Star Wars folks made a social network for action figures.     I’m not sure I agree with that assessment,  though I found it striking.

Bloviate Merkin Botulism

I believe the title of this post is all Holly’s fault.   This post has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with yammering on and on self-importantly,  nor pubic wigs,  nor a rather serious and scary parasitic illness.   It also has nothing whatsoever to do with making grape jelly,  though if you click on the picture it will take you to an excellent blog post that tells and shows you how to do just that.

I find myself anxious for summer to finally arrive here in the Pacific Northwest.   Growing up in Louisiana it always felt like summer by the time my birthday rolled around the first week in June.   I just got back from running over to the pharmacy at the clinic.    Holding my fleece jacket around myself to ward off the cold and pulling the hoodie over my head to keep my hearing aid from getting wet in the drizzly rain I found myself thinking ‘this sure doesn’t feel like June’.     Attempting to pick up medicines when you don’t know the name of the drug you are trying to pick up is SO not a recommended maneuver.    At my last doctor visit,  about two weeks ago,  my doc agreed to start me on a new anti-anxiety medicine.   He does not feel comfortable prescribing the xanax my shrink at my previous health care provider gave me  (and I haven’t heard back anything about the referral to a psychiatrist in this plan which was what prompted the new script).

In some ways,  I am just thrilled to be back on a medical insurance plan.   I have no co-pay for routine doctor visits and my prescription drug co-pays are tiny.    What I hate though is that it always feels like navigating a difficult and unpleasant maze.   Two weeks ago I asked my doctor to give me two more refills on all of the medications I am continuing to take.    He tapped a bunch of keys on his computer keyboard and indicated to me that this was done.   But the pharmacy clerk told me that I had zero refills left on the Lantus script.   She was very helpful and got a doctor okay and got the pharmacist to fill the script for me.    I didn’t mind waiting half an hour or so.    But then when I got home,  I found that what had been filled was my insulin and a pill called simvastatin  (which my huzband the RN rants is less than useless) and I do not have the new anxiety medicine he told me he was prescribing.

#SoNotAHappyCamper.      I know that Monday I will go back and either charm or frighten them into giving me my anxiety medicine.     And if they don’t I will be writing to the clinic’s medical director.    Treat my mental illness!!!